The Digital Divide in San Francisco

This week in class, we have studied the Digital Divide. We’ve noted that the digital divide is not one, single divide — it’s not just the divide between the developed world and the developing.   While many look at the divide from an international perspective, it obviously exists within the United States as well and is important to keep in mind. Therefore, I wanted to take a look at the divide that exists in San Francisco, where I’m from.

Scott James, a columnist for the Bay Citizen and for the New York Times, writes that the divide in San Francisco is most prevalent in the Latino community. James splits up the numbers of internet users into groups, and found that 82% of whites have internet at home, 77% of Asians do, and 70% of blacks also have internet at home, in comparison with just 50% of the Latino community. These numbers are severe, as internet both at home and in the office are fundamental for anyone who wants to communicate with the world and enter the global age. These numbers are also striking considering that the San Francisco Bay Area is known as the one of the “techiest” and innovate areas in the world — yet the innovation and success has not been felt equally in the area.

Fortunately, there are many NGOs in San Francisco that are working to bridge this divide. One such NGO, called Caminos, works to “enable low-income, Latina immigrants to create opportunities for self and economic improvement through access to technology”. They believe that through their work, they can help the Latino community break the repeating cycle of poverty and social isolation.

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4 responses to “The Digital Divide in San Francisco

  • laurag063

    I spent the summer just outside San Francisco in the East Bay, which is what drew me to your post. I found it really interesting when you said that the Bay Area is known for being one of the “techiest” in the world. I had never heard this before, and certainly didn’t get that impression while I was living there. But after all, you are a local, so I’m sure you know best. Is this actually a view that people commonly hold about the area? If so, where and what is that title based on? Also, does “Caminos” work focus only on Latin women? Just wondering..

  • clairedwyre

    This is a very interesting perspective! Although I am not a local I have heard that San Francisco is a very “techy” area and was surprised to hear about the extent of the digital divide there. It is interesting that many Americans do not see how we have many similar issues as developing nations like sex trafficking and digital divides, though on smaller platforms.

  • sarahswig

    @laurag063, I live a bit south of San Francisco, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. This is home to the headquarters of Facebook, Google, eBay, Apple, HP, Yahoo, Adobe etc. From my experience, people from the Bay Area are super interested in technological innovation and many college graduates come to the area looking to work at many of these companies. On a similar note, it is generally an area with a lot of wealth, which contributes to the stereotype that everyone uses Apple computers and has the latest iPhone, but more importantly helps contribute to much of the technological innovation that occurs in the area. I must say that I do believe that most people commonly believe that the San Francisco Bay Area is extremely “techy” and forward-thinking (relating to the hipster and “green” reputation it has”. Lastly, yes, Caminos does focus on women!

  • skaplan9190

    I spend a lot of time in SF (parents moved there several years ago) and that is very surprising to hear because of what you pointed out as SF being one of the “techiest” places in the world. I’m not entirely surprised though that it is the Latino community taking the biggest hit from this divide. In my Politics of Immigration class, the subject of Latinos has been at the forefront of the past couple class discussions, and they are usually the least assimilated among ethnic groups. This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed, but also one that has been going on for some time. California has some of the highest portions of Latinos and specifically Mexicans. They are a huge part of the economy but are obviously not able to take full advantage of opportunities because of such a marginalized status. Very interesting.

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